Now Ain’t The Time For Your Tears

by

The New York Times today reports the death of William Devereux Zantzinger at the age of 69. February 8 will mark the 46th anniversary of Mr. Zantzinger’s attendance in Baltimore at the elegant Spinsters’ Ball, held that year at the Emerson Hotel. Mr. Zantzinger arrived drunk, and spent much of the evening taunting the hotel’s service staff. He’d picked up a toy cane sometime during the day, and he used it to hit those of the staff whose service he found unsatisfactory. Among those whose performance fell short of Mr. Zantzinger’s demands was Hattie Carroll, who was working at the bar that night. She fled from his assault into the kitchen, where she suffered a stroke. Her death the next day left eleven children behind.

Mr. Zantzinger was originally charged with murder, but that charge was reduced to mansaughter, and on September 15, 1963 he began serving his sentence: six months in the Washington County Jail.

Enter Bob Dylan. Dylan’s girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, had become involved with a Theatre de Lys production of songs by Brecht and Weill and when he visited the theatre and listened, he heard a new direction for his own work, especially in their Pirate Jenny. “Woody,” he later wrote, “had never written a song like that.” Dylan studied Brecht’s songs, and looked for opportunities to apply Brecht’s methods, “trying”, he wrote, “to make a song that transcended the information in it, the character and plot.”

One of those opportunities came when Dylan learned of Hattie Carroll’s murder by William Zantzinger, and the sentence that seemed almost to vindicate Zantzinger’s callousness. He recorded The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll on October 22, 1963, only five weeks after William Zantzinger went to jail.

The video is from Dylan’s 1964 performance on the Steve Allen Show. Listen.

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2 Responses to “Now Ain’t The Time For Your Tears”

  1. Paul Says:

    Wow. I had never thought to look into what happened to Zantzinger. Had no idea he was still alive. Thanks for calling attention to this.

  2. Marianne Says:

    Don,
    I loved the vintage footage, but especially appreciated the story behind the song that told the story. You’re still teaching me new stuff after 40 years. So let me return the favor. Check out this website of a friend for some interesting new music.
    http://www.myspace.com/paulfairallmusic

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